The UN has been ridiculed for its idiosyncratic appointment of Robert Mugabe, the Zimbabwean president accused of ethnic cleansing and leading his country to economic ruin, as an international tourism envoy.
The bizarre move by the UN’s World Tourism Organisation elevates Mugabe to a “leader for tourism” following a signing ceremony conducted with its secretary general, Taleb Rifai - who flew out from Madrid to Victoria Falls to amke the announcement.
Rifai reportedly said: “I was told about the wonderful experience and the warm hospitality of this country … By coming here, it is recognition, an endorsement on the country that it is a safe destination."
Mugabe is currently banned from entering the EU but is allowed to attend the UN general assembly in New York.
Also lined up are David Beckham, Drew Barrymore, Orlando Bloom and Ricky Martin for similar roles.
Sandra Carvao, UNWTOs’ co-ordinator of communications said: "…UNWTO has presented both presidents with an open letter which calls for them to support tourism as a means to foster sustainable development in their countries to the benefit of their people and consequently ask them to support the sector in this respect.
"UNWTO does not have an ambassadors programme and the receiving of the UNWTO/WTTC [World Travel and Tourism Council] open letter implies no legal commitment or title attribution to the country or the head of state or government in question."